4-H program up to old favorites, new tricks

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2004

An archer, a violinist and a book drive for people in Papua New Guinea have little in common other than the purpose of demonstrating that 4-H Club is more than just animals.

A group of 4-H'ers did just that Tuesday as they told Soldotna business leaders about special training, skills and projects 4-H of the Kenai Peninsula has recently been involved in.

"We learn tips on accurate shooting; we learn all the safety rules before we shoot; and we learn the Olympic style of shooting," said Kade Foust, who displayed a donated competition bow to about four dozen members of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

"But mostly, we do it to have fun," Foust said of the 4-H archery activity that holds his interest.

The next young man to demonstrate how far 4-H can drift from raising pigs and cows was Walker Boyle, who played three violin solos for the lunch-time crowd.

Though his ballad selections of "Jack's Maggot" and "As the Sun Was Setting" were a bit somber, Boyle's third number, "Frosty Morning" had a jumpy beat that easily lifted listeners' spirits.

Tatiana Butler then described a book-gathering project the Kenai Peninsula 4-H'ers participated in last year, hoping to accumulate 400 books to be shipped to Papua New Guinea.

She said the program taught her a great deal about the world as a community and she was surprised the book drive brought in more than 1,000 books in just four weeks.

"Our club the Funky Farmers raised the funds to pay for shipping the books to Papua New Guinea," Butler said.

"This is one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done. The help from all over the Kenai Peninsula was truly incredible," she said.

Other 4-H Club members told the Soldotna business leaders about activities of the club, such as backpacking, canoeing, camping and rafting and the inherent lessons learned while participating.

"A tipped canoe is no fun," is one such lesson learned by Kelsea Fowler.

Getting back to the business of animals, Tera Schnabl reported on a steer camp she attended in Oklahoma by way of 4-H.

Beyond learning basic livestock skills taught to 4-H'ers, such as purchasing their own animals, buying feed, feeding and caring for the animals and eventually selling them at auction, Schnabl said she learned the latest steer-grooming techniques and learned about potential diseases that could infect steers.

Nancy Veal, the adult agent for Kenai Peninsula 4-H and its youth development coordinator, told the business people that the club received a grant to join the national After-the-Bell program enabling youth to participate in music, art and drama activities.

One project involved gathering up old, used chairs and painting them to resemble the works of master artists.

Veal brought one completed chair with her a folding chair painted to look like Georgia O'Keefe's "Sunflower."

Describing her 10 years of belonging to 4-H, Stephanie Lambe, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, said she has realized she learned a lot of valuable lessons through her participation.

She said she has learned about responsibility through raising lambs and hogs, about politics by making no fewer than five trips to Washington, D.C., in the past five years and about leadership.

"If you have it your way, it's much easier to get things done," she said jokingly.

The 4-H ambassadors also reminded chamber of commerce members of the upcoming Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik Aug. 20, 21 and 22.

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